Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reading Recommendations

The grading is done, at long last (insert huge sigh of relief). I am taking a break to read for pleasure before returning to preparations for my last prelim exam.

Right now I'm reading Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, this month's book for Knit the Classics. What a great book so far -- very enthralling, and the structure of the novel, with all of its stories within the story, is interesting. I have to admit that this is the first book I have read by Margaret Atwood. This is a minor point, but I've been noticing the "Canadianness" of it. I realize that I read very few Canadian authors. The only exceptions are Robertson Davies and L.M. Montgomery. Does anyone have any more Canadian authors to recommend?

Mia over at Knit & Play with Fire has asked for book suggestions, and I am more than happy to oblige. Here are a few well-written books that I would highly recommend.

- Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin. Enthralling and surreal, this epic book paints a vivid yet fantastic picture of New York over the course of the 20th century.

- Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. Wit and humour mark this novel as it plays with the literary legacy of the Brontes, Eliot, and Hardy. There's a fabulous movie version as well.

- The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. This medieval mystery is set in a monastic library, and the clash between the classical world and the church lies at its heart.

- The Seven Sisters, by Margaret Drabble. After her divorce, a middle-aged woman organizes a group trip to follow the path of Aeneas and comes into her own. This book is much better than the plot sounds like it should be. Margaret Drabble is a scholar in her own right and the editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature.

- Three Junes, by Julia Glass. Intertwined stories of a family spread out throughout the world over the course of ten years.

- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Clarke does a marvelous job of mixing fantasy and historical fiction as she tells how magic returned to England in the 19th century. The pseudo-scholarly tone, complete with footnotes, makes this an unusual read.

- Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey. Tey combines literary fiction and mystery in the best possible way. The characters are well-drawn, and psychology combines with suspense to create a marvelous tension.

Further Recommendations

- The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan

- The Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies

- Stones from the River, by Ursula Hegi

- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon


Amy said...

I too loved The Bonesetter's Daughter and Stones from the River.

Other Canadians? Carol Shields can be hit or miss, but books like The Stone Diaries and Unless are both wonderful.

And if you like short fiction, it's just hard to beat the master, Alice Munro.

Jodi said...

Thanks, Amy! I'll have to check out both Carol Shields and Alice Munro. I haven't read anything by either of them.

Mia said...

I remember reading The Name of the Rose when it first came out. It was good than and it has held up to the test of time.

melissa said...

i love margaret atwood! i'm actually reading oryx and crake by her now, and it's great. you should definitely read the handmaiden's tale as well! :) i haven't read the one you are reading but i will check it out.

bekka said...

just a few books, eh? i keep wanting to do the knit the classics thing, but there never seems to be enough time to just knit. coming up with a clever project to go along with KTC frazzles my brain.

so you like the Gibbons novel? did you see the movie? lots of lovely knitted caps in that one--but i did read the book and ever since i've been afraid to go into the woodshed!

Julia Glass's books are lovely. have you read her new one? think it's called The Whole World Over.

Sharon said...

My favorite Atwood novel is The Cat's Eye. I gave it to a friend for her birthday and she said, "She's written my story." If you went to public school, it's your story too. I loved Julia Glass's The Whole World Over, also Ruth Ozeki's All Over Creation, and a wonderful first novel by Laura Moriarty, The Center of Everything, which I just reread earlier this month. I'll check out your recommendations - they're always welcome - Thanks!

sprite said...

I really liked Margaret Laurence's The Diviners, which I'd compare to some of Willa Cather's work.

JulieFrick said...

Oh, I just finished Jonathan Strange and absolutely adored it. I didn't want it to end. And that's saying something, as by the time I'd finished it my arms were sore from holding that tome up!